August 14, 2009

Who/what is Google honoring today?

Here's the logo running over there:



Pause the cursor over it long enough and you'll see it's Hans Christian Ørsted. And who was he and what is that logo supposed to be:
... Google's Doodle logo illustrates his key discovery. That is, if you run a current through a wire – in this case, from the battery at the front – then the electricity creates a magnetic field, which will deflect a compass needle.

Thus the study of electromagnetism was born, and it's the basis of a lot of modern life: it led to the development of electricity generators and transformers....

As with many great discoveries, it happened by accident. In 1820, Ørsted, a professor of natural philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, was preparing an evening lecture when he noticed that a compass needle moved away from magnetic north and pointed to the wire whenever current flowed from the battery....

To honour Ørsted, the scientific community named the unit of magnetic induction after him, in what we now call the CGS (centimetre-gram-second) system. Sadly for him, people no longer measure things in oersteds, because nowadays we use an international metric system (SI) that honours people such as Ampere, Ohm, Hertz, James Prescott Joule, James Watt and Michael Faraday instead.
Poor Ørsted. But if he only discovered it by accident, he's lucky he got as much glory as he did. And now he's got a new jolt of fame, from Google.

By the way, there was no Mr. Google. These days, we name things with words with think sound fun and exciting — Google, Yahoo, etc. — not after fusty old professors. But thanks to the old professor, nonetheless.

20 comments:

Bissage said...

Were it not for Professor Ørsted, Les Paul wouldn’t have had a pickup to screw to his log.

NKVD said...

Ouch!

rhhardin said...

Nobody noticed the compass needle swinging when an electrified cat walked by.

AJ Lynch said...

My guess was Dick Cheyney.

Shanna said...

Is it wrong that I saw this and thought of Bill Ayers?

traditionalguy said...

Should we name 200+ comment threads as "AtlhousePalin" units of measurement, or AP's for short? This month I believe that there were at least 10 AP's.

Edgehopper said...

But if he only discovered it by accident, he's lucky he got as much glory as he did.

I do hope you're joking, but I can't tell. Fundamental discoveries in science frequently happen by accident--the great scientist isn't so much the one who expected to discover something, but the one who noticed the physical effect and subsequently investigated it.

A similar example is Roentgen, who discovered X-Rays and their effects through his own accident--when he noticed that photographic film in his pocket developed despite the lack of a light source when he was working around radioactive materials. And his name remains as a unit of measurement radioactivity.

Smilin' Jack said...

CGS units are still the dominant system in areas of physics (e.g. plasma physics) where their clean elegance in expressing the fundamental equations of electrodynamics is appreciated. SI units dominate engineering, because engineers are slobs who don't care how ugly their equations are.

bagoh20 said...

"These days, we name things with words with think sound fun and exciting — Google, Yahoo, etc. - not after fusty old professors. But thanks to the old professor..."

The name of this blog is old school then rather than say "Palinopolis" or "Hillbilly Hangout" ("Yahoo" was taken) .

Sorry, for all vileness of this comment, but it was coming later anyway. I just wanted to take out the garbage before the can overflowed.

ironrailsironweights said...

Diseases generally get named after the doctors who first identify them, e.g. Dr. Alzheimer. Talk about a very dubious honor ...

Peter

AllenS said...

I was going to post something really snarky, and then noticed that the WV was sloychi, and then decided not to.

former law student said...

[Who was] Hans Christian Ørsted?

I'm reluctant (F/Phi) to say.

nansealinks said...

ann's obits are lacking


more goodbyes

les paul and rashied ali

Chris said...

I initially thought it was a time bomb.

Ken Mitchell said...

Orsted's basic discovery - electromagnetism, the link between the CHANGE in the current in a wire to the MAGNETIC field - is quite fundamental to all electronics. For example, an electromagnet - a very tiny, highly focused one - uses a very tiny current to magnetize a miniscule spot on a computer disk to read or write information on your hard drive. The fact that anybody can read this post is proof of Orsted's brilliance. The only shame is that the mad dynamiter Al Nobel worked after his time, so Orsted didn't get the prize he would certainly have earned.

Comrade X said...

Is it wrong that I saw this and thought of Bill Ayers?


Ha. I thought it was a pipe bomb and thought it was Ayers birthday too and that Google was just palling around with him.

Bob in Reno said...

While yahoo is just a fun word, a google is ten to the one hundredth power. Supposedly it cannotes the enormous size of the database google searches through. More than astronomical, it's economical.

WV funlad - to talk about fun words

Triangle Man said...

Bob, the number you describe is a googol.

NKVD said...

nansealinks - you can't tell us you are leaving then come back - make a plan, stick to it.

But thanks for the heads up on Rashied Ali - he did ok playing infidel music.

WV - instfult - when you defame someone while eating a marshmallow.

Johnny Pazzesco said...

It's a Google Bomb!
Palestinians?